By: Denis Droppa

Paris Motor Show - It may not debut the hoped-for ‘see-through bonnet’ but Land Rover’s all-new Discovery has gone more modern while retaining the famed offroad ability of its predecessors.

Making its world premiere just ahead of this weekend’s Paris motor show, it’s due to go on sale in South Africa from mid-2017. With streamlined new styling that loses much of its predecessor’s boxiness, Discovery 5 packages all-terrain capability with a new lightweight aluminium monocoque body that weighs up to 480kg less than the previous steel framed model for improvements in driving dynamics and fuel economy.

Whether or not it turns out to be the best family SUV in the world, as its makers claim, Discovery 5 is certainly the most connected; the British vehicle treats its seven occupants with up to nine USB ports, six 12-volt charging points and an in-car 3G WiFi hotspot for up to eight devices.

Some of the tech previewed in the Discovery Vision Concept of 2014 has not found its way into the production version, most notably the ‘invisible’ bonnet which employed cameras in the grille to feed a life-sized head-up display onto the windscreen, effectively providing a see-through view of the terrain through the bonnet and engine bay - a useful feature for seeing what’s over the summit of a steep offroad climb. Land Rover has not said when this technology will become available.

Nifty new gadgets

However, Discovery 5 does have its share of life-easing gadgets, including world-first Intelligent Seat Fold technology that allows the two rear rows of seats to be folded flat in 14 seconds via a smartphone app, or using the main touchscreen. It allows owners to set the seating arrangements before they get to the vehicle, for instance while queuing with their shopping.

The app also lets owners check the fuel level, confirm the windows are closed, locate the car on a map and remotely operate the aircon.

An Activity Key wristband allows you to enjoy watersports or other adventurous hobbies without carrying a key fob. The waterproof wristband locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left safely inside.

Advanced Tow Assist helps the driver with the tricky counter-steering required when reversing with a trailer or caravan.

True seven-seater

Where some SUVs provide 5+2 seating the Discovery is a true seven-seater that allows adults to sit comfortably in its rearmost seats. As before a stadium seating configuration sees each row of seats positioned higher than the one in front, ensuring all passengers have a decent view.

All three rows are available with heated seats - heated and cooled in rows one and two - while massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger.

Auto Access Height technology reduces the ride-height by up to 40mm to ease passenger entry or egress.

All-terrain capability

Discovery 5 retains its renowned all-terrain capability with ground clearance raised to 283mm (up 43mm) and a maximum wading depth of 900mm (an increase of 200mm).

The latest multimode Terrain Response 2 system optimises a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear-change characteristics, to suit the driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller. The driver can also set the vehicle to autonomously maintain a suitable crawl speed while he or she concentrates on steering.

Premium cabin

The interior’s become more luxurious and can be specced with a range of premium materials including Windsor leather upholstery and natural oak veneers.

InControl Touch Pro infotainment system features a large10-inch touchscreen that reduces the number of switches on the centre console.

Discovery 5 offers up to 2500 litres of luggage space under a new one-piece powered tailgate, and a class-leading 3500kg towing capacity.

Engines carried over

The engine range is carried over from the old Discovery, in the form of a 3-litre turbodiesel with outputs of 190kW and 600Nm, and a 3-litre supercharged petrol wielding 250kW and 450Nm. Both are paired with an eight-speed auto gearbox.

A limited-run of 2400 ‘First Edition’ derivatives will be available globally (34 for South Africa) with exclusive features including unique etched map detailing on the aluminium trim for the doors and facia, unique badges, bold colour choices and a comprehensive list of standard equipment.